Maudelle Driskell

poet and executive director of The Frost Place


Koans of a Different Order 


I make it a practice to write with my finger on every fogged motel bathroom mirror, squeaking out messages overlooked
by hotel staff. The oils of my skin battle water molecules for years to come, bringing the truth to naked strangers.

Your dog will make a gruesome discovery.

The Gideons left their bible in that drawer.
You may choose to open and read it.
The millions of skin cells dusting the mattress pad, find their way into your body with each breath, and I am stamped across your forehead
as you face your naked self in the mirror.

If you can hear your heart beating, there is a problem.

You lean close to line your eyes, trim your nose hair,
check the back of your tongue for mucous,
or your neck for hickies. We will always have our moments. And so it should be. is is how the truth comes
upon you, when you are naked, staring and startled.

Saliva is a carcinogen when swallowed over time.

Time is catching you. Once it overtakes you,
there is nothing. Subtract the hours in this room
from the hours you have left . Go and get that book from the drawer. Tear two pages out for each heartbeat. When the two covers touch, you’re gone.

from Talismans (Hobblebush Books)